Fight for cruises heats up in Florida, travel agents say it’s time to sail again

Jacksonville, FL. — Early in the pandemic, some COVID-19 outbreaks were linked to cruises forcing the shutdown of the U.S. cruise industry.

Exactly seven days ago the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance that reads in part:

“COVID-19 vaccination efforts will be critical in the safe resumption of passenger operations.”

But didn’t give the green light just yet.

Then on Thursday Florida’s governor made an announcement from Port Miami.

“We’re filing a lawsuit against the federal government and the CDC demanding that our cruise ships be reopened immediately,” he said.

Local travel agent Scott Lara who runs thecruisegenius.com said he was excited to hear Gov. Ron DeSantis’ announcement.

“It’s billions of dollars that need to be restored to our Florida economy,” said Lara.

According to a study JAXPORT conducted in 2019 along with the Duval County Tourism Development Council, cruising activity generates nearly 800 jobs, more than $170 million in annual economic impact, and 20,000 local hotel night stays a year.

Lara said with cruises still docked, his clients are looking at other options.

“What I’m seeing more of my clients doing now is calling me asking me about all-inclusive resorts,” said Lara.

Cruises will sail again from Florida ports but the question no one can answer right now is, when?

Lara said some cruises are now requiring proof of vaccination from passengers while others are considering it.